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J Vasc Surg. 1997 Jul;26(1):49-52.

Validation of duplex ultrasonography in detecting competent and incompetent perforating veins in patients with venous ulceration of the lower leg.

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Department of Surgery, Sint Franciscus Gasthuis, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.



Incompetent perforating veins play an important role in the etiologic mechanism of venous ulceration and recurrent varicose veins. The anatomic and functional status of the venous system can be evaluated by duplex ultrasonography. To determine the value of this technique in the identification of competent and incompetent perforating veins, a prospective study was performed.


In patients who underwent subfascial exploration for venous ulceration of the lower leg, the preoperative findings of duplex ultrasonography were compared with the findings at surgical exploration.


In 20 consecutive patients, 42 incompetent and 8 competent perforating veins were detected by duplex ultrasonography. During operation the location of all 50 perforating veins appeared to be predicted correctly. Eleven additional perforating veins that had not been detected by duplex ultrasonography were found during operation. The sensitivity and specificity of duplex ultrasonography in predicting the site of perforating veins at the medial side of the lower leg in our study were 79.2% and 100%, respectively, for incompetent perforating veins and 82% and 100%, respectively, for competent and incompetent perforating veins.


These figures indicate that duplex-guided local exploration of the lower leg in patients with venous ulceration as a result of incompetent perforating veins would miss a substantial number of perforating veins, possibly leading to incomplete healing or recurrent ulceration.

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